How to Upcycle Old Furniture
As trends come and go or furniture picks up a little wear and tear from the rigours of everyday life at home, the temptation is there to simply get out with the old and in with the new. However, there are ways in which we can prolong the life of our existing furniture pieces while also saving plenty of cash in the process. This is commonly known as ‘upcycling’.
Each year, tonnes of old furniture goes to landfill. Furniture which could otherwise be re-used or upcycled into something new.
Around 30% of us throw away old furniture. While 19% of 16 to 24 year olds don't even know how to recycle or what to do with old furniture.*
By recycling, we could prevent items from going to landfill. Items which are still worthy of being used in people's homes.
Upcycling furniture allows us to take a tired old item and breathe new life into it, and whether that’s a fresh lick of paint or some new doorknobs and cupboard furniture, the results can be dramatic and aid in giving your decor the facelift it truly deserves.
To give you a DIY-headstart, our expert team here at More4Doors have put together some handy information on how to upcycle old furniture, so grab your sandpaper, pick up a paintbrush and read on below.
Any successful upcycling starts with preparation. We recommend making sure that you have all the tools and any equipment that you’ll need at your disposal and that both they and any furniture or surfaces are clean before you make a start.
You’re likely to need items such as sandpaper, string and masking tape, and if you’re going to be using paintbrushes – make sure that they’re of a decent quality! There’s nothing worse than picking out stray bristles or suffering from streaky, lacklustre paint coverage.
Pick Your Project
It’s important that you pick the right kind of project. Perhaps it’s some old drawers that could do with new cupboard doorknobs, or maybe your chairs could do with reupholstering to reflect an interior design change?
Whatever it is, you should try to focus on one project at a time so that you don’t leave yourself with too much on your plate and not enough time to complete the upcycle to maximum effect.
Try Different Techniques
Finding or picking out your project is lots of fun, sure, but the real enjoyment starts when you’re able to try out creative techniques to make your upcycle project uniquely you.
You’re able to be as intricate or minimalist as you like here, and how you approach your project is entirely your choice! Certain projects lend themselves better to specific techniques, so to help you out, we’ve included just some of the techniques and where you can use them:
Perhaps the most popular of all upcycling techniques is a simple lick of paint. You’d be surprised at just how much difference a fresh coat will make, and the wonders of reaching for a paintbrush rather than scrapping your furniture are well-documented.
Not only can paint be used to mask any troublesome scuffs and scratches, but it can also provide a simple yet effective colour change to tie in with any new decor or interior themes too. Picking the right colour is paramount here, so decide whether you want to mirror the main hues of your space or provide accents of colour that complement each other.
Next, do your research – and shop about! You might have an old pot of paint lying around in a cupboard or shed somewhere, but if not, it’s always best to keep your upcycling budget to a minimum. Local DIY shops are often kinder on the purse strings than large chains, while you could always have a cheeky ask around friends and family too for any unwanted leftovers from previous projects.
Before applying any paint, it’s always advisable to sandpaper the surface to even things out and remove any excess paint or residue that might tarnish the finish of your new colour. If the furniture is varnished, you’ll need to apply some extra pressure or even seek the help of a solvent before painting.
If you’re happy with the tones of your furniture but still want to switch things up aesthetically, why not swap out old fittings for something new?
The addition of new pull handles or cupboard door knobs can make a huge amount of difference to your decor, and with an endless supply of inspiration out there, there’s no limit to how creative you can get with swapping out your existing cupboard furniture.
Employing this technique is last drastic and often also more cost-effective than painting a full piece of furniture, while it also allows you to change things far easier should you decide on a different theme or interior design down the line.
If paint and handles just won’t do, then how about adding a little extra detail? There are tons of ways to make your furniture appear eye-catchingly unique, allowing you to seamlessly mix styles and ensure that you achieve a harmonious decor design.
Stencils are great for tying in different pieces, and with the simple flick of a brush or spray of paint, you’re able to mirror shapes or colours across different furniture pieces without breaking the bank on often-expensive complete furniture sets.
If you prefer things a little less shiny and new, then how about going for a distressed look? Sandpapering areas of furniture can create some exciting textures, colour fades and layers, but just be careful not to get too carried away or heavy-handed!
Another effective means of detailing is découpage or using vinyl wraps. By using patterned papers or vinyl you can switch up the appearance of a full piece of furniture in an instant – you’re even able to use wallpaper to tie in furniture with feature walls or full interior designs.
Here's an example of one of our products being used as part of an upcycling project. One of our lovely customers has used our Knurled T Bar Cupboard Pull Handles in Satin Brass to upcycle this old console into an on-trend must have. The satin brass matches perfectly with the shade of blue used on the doors and we think you can agree, Libby has done a wonderful job of turning something old into something new (and blue).
If you have upcycling tips of your own, why not share them with our online community? Follow More4Doors on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter – and for more interior design advice such as How to Update Your Kitchen on a Budget, check out our blog page.
*Data source - https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2019/october/uk-adults-wasting-furniture
- Craig Scully